October 20, 1976
Memorandum, Political Department, Unit I, Utrikesdepartmentet, 'Cabinet Secretary's Conversation with the Ambassador of North Korea'
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[MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]
Case Officer: ds Hirdman
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Chief of Police
Chief of Pol I
C 53 X [illegible]
[Stamp: SECRET, according to section 3 of the Secrecy Act, 10/22/1976, Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
Cabinet Secretary’s conversation with the Ambassador of North Korea
On October 20, the Cabinet Secretary summoned the Ambassador of North Korea, Kil Jae Gyong [Gil Jae-gyeong], for a call at 16.30 on the North Korean smuggling activities. The First Embassy Secretary Kim Yong Sik was the English-speaking interpreter.
The Cabinet Secretary welcomed the Ambassador and said he asked him to come for a personal call. It was not an official communication.
Åström recalled that during his conversation with Ambassador Kil yesterday, that Ambassador Leifland said that according to a preliminary report from the relevant Swedish authorities, there are strong indications that the staff at North Korea’s embassy has been involved in illegal activities and that [redacted]. Mr Leifland took the preliminary police report as a basis and pointed out that we had not yet received the final report. This is expected to come, maybe on Friday. However, in the meantime, we’ve received further information that confirmed the information provided by Leifland yesterday. This new information confirms the following [redacted].
Following Leifland’s conversation with Kil, we were informed that Sweden’s Charge d’Affaires in Pyongyang, Erik Cornell, was received by a Deputy Foreign Minister in Pyongyang on Tuesday evening. The Deputy Foreign Minister openly admitted that the Embassy staff had committed illegal actions and condemned these acts.
In this situation, the question on the correct path to follow arises for both of us, said the Cabinet Secretary.
On the Swedish side, our purpose is to see this problem in the light of the good and normal relations between our countries and that are intended to be preserved.
The Cabinet Secretary emphasized once again that we have not yet made any final and official decisions on the Swedish side, as the final report from the police has still not arrived. Our purpose was to speak personally, not officially, and sincerely with the Ambassador, whom he had known for a long time.
- My personal conclusion, said the Cabinet Secretary, is that it would be in your own interest and also in the interests of our two countries’ relations, if you wanted to personally decide to leave Stockholm together with the embassy members involved in this activity.
This, said the Cabinet Secretary, is not an official announcement from the Swedish government, but a deliberation based on my wish that the relations that have developed so well between Sweden and North Korea should not be compromised.
The Cabinet Secretary finally said that he did not expect any immediate reaction from Ambassador Kil.
Ambassador Kil said he understood Åström very well. He asked a question, namely, what is the available evidence.
Åström: We rely on information from the relevant Swedish authorities and we have every reason to believe that [the evidence] is correct.
The Ambassador: As already said to the Head of Protocol and the Chief of the Political Department, I let six of my colleagues bring duty-free goods from Stockholm to Pyongyang. I have asked the remaining staff about their actions, but I have not been able to ask those who have left.
I can’t understand how [redacted].
The Ambassador: I have not yet received any notice that your chargé d’affaires had a conversion in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea.
We know that the South Korean CIA is trying to attack in this way and that they are concentrating on the ambassadors of North Korea.
I have been able to conclude that the Swedish press and TV have recently criticized North Korea and our leader Kim II Sung.
Our two countries have had particularly good relations, better than the ones we have had with Denmark and Norway. Expelling the ambassador means terminating diplomatic relations.
I shall have a thorough questioning round of the embassy members who left Sweden.
Åström: The Swedish authorities have conducted their own investigations.
Personally, I would regret if your leader Kim II Sung was insulted.
To summarize: I asked for this call to avoid damaging our relationship.
The Ambassador: We know that the American CIA started this campaign after the incident in Panmunjom [i.e., the Axe Murder Incident of August 18, 1976] and that they concentrate on the Nordic countries.
I am surprised that the Norwegian government lied about my accreditation to Norway. They claimed that the operations had started in Stockholm. The Secretary of State Stoltenberg knows very well that I am not accredited in Norway; yet he mentioned my name.
Åström: We investigate the matter in a serious and objective way on the basis of our own information.
The Ambassador: I will ask all the staff who have left.
Åström: We are waiting for the final report. I am confident that the information we have received so far will be confirmed in the full report.
The Ambassador: I understand you perfectly.
In an unofficial meeting with North Korean Ambassador to Sweden Gil Jae-gyeong, Swedish Cabinet Secretary Sverker Åström notes evidence of North Korean smuggling and suggests that the ambassador voluntarily leave Stockholm with the diplomats involved in order to preserve positive relations between Sweden and North Korea.
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